Kassie Alderman of Bradley said she registered 2,945 steps on her pedometer the first time she used it at school.

“I like to exercise,” said the 10-year-old, fifth-grade student who attends Bradley Elementary School. “I am really glad the school got them. My goal is to get 3,000 steps during my class.”

Using money from a grant and a donation, Bradley Elementary physical education teacher Karen Bonnett purchased pedometers in hopes they would encourage students to increase their daily activity and promote a healthy lifestyle.

“I wanted to do something creative with the money,” Bonnett said.

Bonnett created a program at the school in which students use pedometers during physical education classes and on fitness field trips.

“They seem to be a big hit with the students, and I can see many of them striving to increase their own daily physical activity,” she said.

A pedometer tracks the number of steps taken by the person wearing it, as well as the total distance traveled.

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Friday, Bradley fifth-graders walked a portion of the Beckley Rails-to-Trails with several lawmakers from the region as a way to promote more physical activity for children.

“We are excited to have these legislators join us in our walk today,” Bonnett said. “We appreciate what they are doing to promote healthy living for students and their families.”

Bonnett said the Legislature recently passed a healthy lifestyles bill which promotes increased physical activity in public schools.

“This is what legislators and the governor envisioned when we passed the legislation,” Delegate Ron Thompson, D-Raleigh, said. “The healthy lifestyles bill was passed to bring exercise back into schools. It is something that has been lacking the last couple of decades. I am glad to see Raleigh County students taking the lead with this very important issue.”

Sen. Russ Weeks, R-Raleigh, said he was glad to see the pedometers having a positive influence on children.

“(The children) are the future of West Virginia,” he said. “We must nurture and promote healthy lifestyles in any way we can, and getting pedometers for students is a fantastic program.”

Delegate Linda Sumner, R-Raleigh, said she hopes the pedometers assist in building self-esteem as well.

“Not all students are involved in organized sports, and programs using the pedometers can help students make goals and achieve them,” she said. “This not only keeps their bodies in good physical condition, but it also helps keep their minds healthy as well.”

City National Bank executive vice president Charlie Houck said his company is proud to support education.

“Teachers like Karen Bonnett deserve all the credit,” Houck said. “They take the money they are given and accomplish major goals. This is an outstanding program, and the kids seem to really love the pedometers.”

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The Friday walk on the fitness trail portion of the Rails-to-Trails in Beckley was just over 2 miles long, Bonnett said.

“We picked a section of the trails with no road crossings,” she said.

The Mountain State University medical assistant department also attended the event and gave the students bottled water, pretzels and a pencil.

Bonnett said the pedometers are being used to supplement the physical education curriculum.

One goal of this program is to prevent the rise of childhood obesity, Bonnett added.

“Studies continue to prove that increased physical activity has a positive effect on academic achievement, including increased concentration; improved mathematics, reading and writing test scores; and reduced disruptive behavior,” she said.

— E-mail: fpace@register-herald.com

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